Sunday, August 1, 2010

Shore Conference Represented in the Big Leagues

AP Photo/Winslow Townson

It was “Shore Conference Baseball Night” at the Boston Red Sox’ home game against the Detroit Tigers Saturday afternoon.

Maybe no one at Fenway knew, but those in Monmouth and Ocean Counties watching the nationally televised game did. Two of the area’s former high school standouts were recently promoted to the big leagues and made a big splash.

Jeff Frazier, from Toms River South, playing for Detroit and Ryan Kalish, from Red Bank Catholic, playing for Boston both got their first big-league hits and surprisingly played big roles in the game.

Frazier, 27, was called up before Friday’s matchup and started both games as the team’s designated hitter. He was promoted from Triple-A Toledo where he was hitting .273 with 23 home runs, 68 RBI, and 68 runs scored in 104 games.

After going 0-3 with a walk and a run scored in his Major League debut, Frazier—batting seventh in the lineup—went 2-4 with a double and two runs scored.

“He's made significant progress as far as making himself a big-league hitter. He was a high draft choice in the past, and he's continued to improve in the last couple years, so we think he's a guy that can come up and give us a little bit of help offensively,” team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said on the team's website.

Kalish, 22, was called up earlier in the day and got to the park only shortly before the game started. Playing with both Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket, Kalish had a .294 batting average, 13 home runs, 47 RBI, and 25 stolen bases.

Manager Terry Francona slotted Kalish in the eighth spot in the batting order and played him in front of the famous Green Monster in left field.

Down 4-0, Kalish jump started the Red Sox rally singling in Adrian Beltre in the seventh inning. Kalish also finished the day 2-4, adding a run and an RBI.

The Red Sox are usually active at the trade deadline but were quiet this year, partly because of Kalish.

“We decided rather than putting someone like a Ryan Kalish in a deal that we would regret some day, with the way his development is going, he's ready for a trial here at the Major League level,” Epstein told reporters. “He brings a lot of energy, brings an advanced approach to the plate, brings a solid all-around game. Those are things that we could use right now.”

He hit well, but playing in Boston Kalish must need to learn how to play balls hit off the Green Monster. Frazier laced a ball off the wall to lead off the fourth inning that Kalish misplayed and allowed Frazier to slide into second without much of a challenge. Kalish said he intends to get to work to learn the position immediately.

For how long either stays in the big leagues for now is unsure, especially Kalish in Boston, where players like Jacoby Ellsbury will be coming off the disabled list.

What is for sure is that both players are highly regarded in their organizations and made their case that they belong at the highest level of the game.

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